The Acreage Landowners’ Association has conducted a series of meetings for residents who might be interested in supporting an incorporation effort for the community.
The final meeting will be a presentation by Florida League of Cities Director of Membership Development Lynn Tipton on Tuesday, June 14 at 7 p.m. at the Indian Trail Improvement District office.
That will be the last presentation put together by the ALA, but a new political action committee to move an incorporation effort forward, Preserve the Lifestyle of the Acreage Now (PLAN), has formed. That group will meet for the first time on Wednesday, May 25 at 6:30 p.m. at the Acreage library.
ALA President Lillian Hall said members have become concerned about the effectiveness of the current agreement with Palm Beach County called the Neighborhood Plan, and are taking advantage of a clause in the plan that refers to annexation or incorporation.
“It talks about incorporation or annexation and letting [residents] decide if and when they want to do something about it,” Hall said. “And with all the development that’s occurring, we thought now would be a good time to bring it up and see if residents are interested in doing either of those things.”
The ALA has hosted several speakers, including Loxahatchee Groves Councilman Ron Jarriel, a former opponent of incorporation who now serves in municipal government; a speaker from the county on annexation; a county code enforcement official; and County Engineer George Webb, who spoke on anticipated traffic issues due to new development.
“We invited Lynn Tipton down from Orlando, who will be giving us unbiased information about the pros, cons and process of incorporation,” Hall said.
Since annexation was mentioned in the Neighborhood Plan as an option, the ALA had a person from the county talk about the process of voluntary and involuntary annexation.
“We were a little concerned that perhaps we would be annexed by Minto,” she said. “It was quite a relief to learn that they can’t do it.”
The ALA had Jarriel speak on incorporation at its February meeting.
“He had opposed incorporation for Loxahatchee Groves, and now he’s a staunch advocate, so we thought that he could provide both sides of it — what his fears were and what the advantages are,” Hall said. “We wanted a local resident who has just gone through it to come speak.”
In April, they had county code enforcement talk about transitions to incorporation.
Hall stressed that the ALA is not taking a stand, but trying to present the pros and cons of incorporation.
“After the June meeting, the ALA will no longer be involved with the issue of incorporation,” she said, explaining that Tipton advised them that a PAC would be an appropriate organization to pursue incorporation.
“They would be known as the spearhead for incorporation, so wearing another hat as ALA president, I have been involved in starting a grassroots organization called PLAN, Preserve the Lifestyle of the Acreage Now,” Hall said.
The organization is setting up a web site and has an active Facebook page.
“Our mission is several things,” she said. “One is to protect our agricultural codes. We want to preserve the fact that people can have chickens in their back yards, and pigs and goats and whatever they want, and it would not change as developments come along. People who don’t want to hear roosters in the morning can move someplace else. We want to have a municipality that would protect the rights of people here in The Acreage to continue their agriculture.”
Another goal is to allow people to operate businesses out of their homes, which is strictly regulated by the county.
“We have a lot of people who are self-employed, and the county can come and shut them down because their codes don’t allow it,” Hall said.
Self-government may be the only way to get those protections, she said. “The way we want to do it is to create our own government, which is elected by the residents of The Acreage and responsible to the residents of The Acreage,” Hall said.
The area’s current governing board, the Palm Beach County Commission, has only one out of seven commissioners elected to represent them.
“They don’t listen to us because we don’t elect them,” Hall said. “We need a representative government where we elect all of them.”
She pointed out that the county commission meets downtown on Tuesdays at 9:30 a.m., which is difficult for Acreage residents to attend.
“If you’re not there for something, they say, ‘Well the residents don’t care about this, or they would find a way to show up,’ which is just nonsense, because people are not going to burn up their vacation days to go down there,” Hall said. “If we had our government here, they could meet in the evenings right here, and people would have more of a say in the decisions.”
Hall invited the entire community to attend PLAN’s first meeting on May 25.
“We’re hoping that people who have heard about the incorporation and are interested in it would show up for that,” she said. “It will be before the June 14 meeting, where they’ll actually get into details about how to proceed.”
Hall said that the prevailing reason for incorporation is to protect The Acreage from encroaching development, and to get a better voice than just one out of seven county commissioners.
“We’re trying to protect what we have and not let it disappear, so a vote for incorporation is to keep it the way it is,” she said.
More information about the past ALA meetings is available at www.acreagelandowners.com. Learn more about PLAN at www.facebook.com/preservethelifestyleoftheacreagenow.